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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Obama's money and Israel's Sovereignty on: September 01, 2016, 10:10:43 AM
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Swiss vs. EU gun restriction efforts on: September 01, 2016, 12:19:03 AM
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: August 31, 2016, 10:59:28 PM
IMHO a strong couple of days for The Donald.

Excellent and crafty pitch for the black vote the other day in Milwaukee.

Well played and presidential looking on the international stage with the Mexican President today-- even Krauthammer said so  cheesy grin and a very strong and politically crafty speech tonight on immigration.
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obstruction of Justice on: August 31, 2016, 01:13:19 PM
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: August 31, 2016, 12:30:27 PM
The Safire article is great and timely but this is not the thread for it.  Please post in the Clinton thread.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Europe begins to change course on: August 31, 2016, 11:51:35 AM
With The Terror Threat Growing, Europe Changes Course
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
August 31, 2016
 Sixteen years ago, when Dutch commentator Paul Scheffer published his "Multicultural Drama" declaring that multiculturalism in the Netherlands had failed, the response was swift and angry. Critics across Europe called him racist, bigoted, nationalistic. Others dismissed his views as mere rants and ramblings of a Leftist in search of a cause.

Not anymore.

With over 275 people killed in 10 Islamic terrorist attacks since January 2015, Europeans harbor no more illusions about the multiculturalist vision: where immigrants from Muslim countries are concerned, that idealist vision has more than just failed. It has produced a culture of hatred, fear, and unrelenting danger. Now, with European Muslim youth radicalizing at an unprecedented rate and the threat of new terrorist attacks, Europe is reassessing its handling of Muslim communities and its counterterrorism strategies and laws.

Among the changes being considered are a reversal of laws that allow radical Muslims to receive handouts from the very governments they seek to destroy; restricting foreign funding of mosques; and stronger surveillance on private citizens.

Chief among the new counterterrorism approaches is a program to coordinate intelligence data among European Union countries – a tactic that has not been pursued with any regularity or such depth before now. But following the November attacks in Paris, the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD initiated weekly meetings among intel agencies from all EU countries, Switzerland, and Norway, with the objective of sharing information, exchanging new clues, insights, and suspect alerts, and discussing improvements to a Europe-wide system of counterterrorism and intelligence.

Through these meetings and the improved shared database, it is now possible for each country to contextualize its intelligence and understand links between individuals and various groups from one city to another – and so, between radicals and radical groups as they pass through a borderless EU.
Concurrently, EU members are now beginning to share information about web sites and even details about private citizens where needed. Most countries had been reluctant to make such exchanges, citing both privacy concerns and the need to protect their sources. Other cooperative efforts include an EU initiative begun in February 2015 to counteract Islamic extremist propaganda. The project received a major €400 million boost in June, indicating the high priority Europe now places on fighting recruitment.

Earlier this month, Europol began a new effort to screen refugees still awaiting placement in Greek asylum centers. According to a report from Europa Nu, an initiative between the European parliament and the University of Leiden, Europol agents "specifically trained to unmask and dismantle terrorists and terror networks" will be dispatched to the camps to try to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the flood of refugees to Europe.

Some EU measures, however, have been based more in politics than counterterrorism, including efforts to crack down on the ability of radical Muslims to benefit from welfare programs. British citizens, for instance, reacted with outrage when it was discovered that the family of "Jihadi John" had received over £400,000 in taxpayer support over the course of 20 years. In Belgium, Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist accused of participating in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, pulled in nearly €19,000 in welfare benefits from January 2014 and October 2015, according to Elsevier. And Gatestone reports that more than 30 Danish jihadists received a total of €51,000 in unemployment benefits all while battling alongside the Islamic State in Syria.

Such concerns have also spread to the United States. Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, introduced the "No Welfare For Terrorists Act."
"Terrorist victims and their families should never be forced to fund those who harmed them," he said in a statement. "This bill guarantees this will never happen."

But not all of Europe's new approaches to the terror threat are being coordinated out of Brussels. Many more, in fact, are country-specific, such as England's decision to follow an example set earlier by the Netherlands and Spain, separating jailed terrorists and terror suspects from other prisoners. The measures follow others the country adopted after the July 7, 2005 bombings of a London underground and buses, to criminalize "those who glorify terrorism, those involved in acts preparatory to terrorism, and those who advocate it without being directly involved," the New York Times reported.
In fact, prisons worldwide, including in the U.S., have long been viewed as warm breeding grounds for radicals and potential terrorists. Ahmed Coulibaly, the gunman at the Porte de Vincennes siege in January 2015, was serving time for a bank robbery, for instance, when he met Cherif Koauachi, one of the Charlie Hebdo attackers. Both converted to Islam there. It was in that same prison that the two encountered Djamel Beghal, an al-Qaida operative who attempted to blow up the American Embassy in Paris in 2001.

Hence many experts now argue in favor of isolating those held on terrorism-related charges as a way to stop them from radicalizing their fellow inmates.
Yet British officials have until now resisted creating separate wings for terror suspects, arguing that doing so gives them "credibility" and makes it harder to rehabilitate them. But a recent government report on Islamist extremism in British prisons forced a change in thinking, in part by noting that "other prisoners – both Muslim and non-Muslim – serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism are nonetheless vulnerable to radicalization by Islamist Extremists [sic]."

Similarly, France, the site of the worst attacks of the past two years, also balked at first at the idea of separating terrorists from other prisoners, arguing that doing so "forms a terrorist cell within a prison." But the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015 changed all that. Now, officials are even going further, looking at other potential sources of radicalization: the mosques.

Shortly after the Bastille Day attack in Nice, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced plans to ban foreign financing for French mosques as part of an effort to establish a "French Islam," led by imams trained only in France. France hosts dozens of foreign-financed mosques – many sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Morocco – which preach Salafism, an extreme version of Islam practiced in the Saudi Kingdom and the root of much radical Islamist ideology. And according to a new report on counter-radicalization, about 300 imams come from outside France.

That same report also calls for "regular surveys" of France's 4-5 million Muslims, according to France 24, in order "to acquire a better understanding of this population in a country where statistics based on religious, ethnic, or racial criteria are banned."

Both proposed measures have been met with resistance. The "surveys," as even the report itself notes, are a means of circumventing laws against gathering information on the basis of religious criteria – and so, go against democratic principles. And many French officials also oppose the ban on foreign funding for mosques, arguing that French government intervention in places of worship contradicts separation between church and state. Besides, they claim, radicalization doesn't take place there anyway.

But Dutch authorities and counter-extremism experts are not so sure. The announcement earlier this month that Qatar would finance an Islamic center in Rotterdam, for instance, set off alarms even among Muslim moderates, including Rotterdam's Moroccan-born mayor Ahmed Marcouch. There are good reasons for this. The Salafist Eid Charity, which sponsors the project, has been on Israel's terror list since 2008, according to Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. Moreover, in 2013 the U.S. Treasury Department accused the charity's founder, Abd al-Rahman al-Nu'aymi, of providing funding for al-Qaida and its affiliates, and named him a "specially designated global terrorist."

Plans for the center sound much like those of the now-abandoned plans for New York's "Ground Zero mosque," with sports facilities, prayer space, tutoring for students, Islamic child care, and, reports Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, imam training.

Yet the center's prospective director, Arnoud van Doorn, a convert to Islam and former member of the far-right, anti-Islam political party PVV, insists that any fears about the project are unfounded. "Our organization has nothing to do with extremism," he told the NRC. "We want only to provide a positive contribution to Dutch society."

Notably, though, France's proposal to ban foreign mosque funding and the Qatari backing of the Rotterdam center point to some of the deepest roots of Europe's radical Islam problem, and, despite all the new initiatives now underway, the greatest challenges to ending it. When Muslim immigrants came to Europe in the 1970s, they carved prayer spaces wherever they could: the backs of community grocery stores, in restaurants and tea rooms. But these soon became too small to handle the growing Muslim population. Mosques – real mosques – would have to be built.

But by whom? The Muslim communities themselves were too poor. Western governments, wedded to the separation of church and state, could not subsidize them with taxpayer funds. And so the door was opened to foreign – mostly Saudi – investment, and the placement of Saudi-trained and Saudi-backed imams in European mosques. Europe had, in essence, rolled out the welcome mat for Salafism.

Now they want to roll it in again. But is it too late? Even as Western intelligence is now uniting to fight radical Islam, Islamic countries are pooling together in Europe to expand it. The result, as Manuel Valls told French daily Le Monde, is that, "What's at stake is the republic. And our shield is democracy."

Hence as the number attacks against Western targets increase, many Europeans are coming to understand that preserving the core of that democracy may mean disrupting some of the tenets on which it's built, like certain elements of privacy, for instance, and religious principles that violate the freedom that we stand for . It is, as it were, a matter of destroying even healthy trees to save the forest. But in this tug-of-war between the Islamic world's efforts to shape the West, and Western efforts to save itself, only our commitment to the very heart of our ideals will define who wins this fight.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Lies on: August 31, 2016, 09:42:36 AM
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Alliance of the Imperilled on: August 31, 2016, 09:33:44 AM
Israel and the Alliance of the Imperiled
by Ethan Seletsky
The Jewish Advocate
August 26, 2016

Israel, despite constant existential threats and its history as a terror target, has kept its people relatively safe, earning a 2015 Global Terrorism Index impact rank of 24th. This rank is not only better than most Middle Eastern countries, but also is better than the likes of China, Russia and India.

Israel, through decades of thought and investment in counterterrorism, maintains security by reducing its areas of vulnerability and proactively targeting terrorist infrastructure and operatives. Israel has not suffered a major attack on its airports since the 1972 shooting at Ben Gurion Airport. Israel uses checkpoints and physical barriers in order to limit vulnerability and the activities of terrorists. Targeted strikes aggressively pursue those that seek to spill innocent blood.
The Israeli company Cyberark won Best Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Protection at the SC Awards Europe 2014.

The private sector contributes as much as the government to the strength and innovation of Israeli counterterrorism. Israeli companies areactively involved in creating technologies designed to increase security for individuals and nations.

These include a GPS based mobile security network aimed at increasing response times to terrorist attacks, medical emergencies, and other time-sensitive emergencies; software that can suppress background noise to seek out speech related to terrorist activities; and a programthat can seek out and identify those showing signs of online radicalization.

As neighboring nations face the increasingly rabid Islamic State, the security tactics and expertise of Israel are extremely valuable international commodities. Israel, in turn, could gain a large amount of international favor and begrudging cooperation from nations that have historically been enemies to the Jewish state by acting as a teacher and security expert.

There are precedents for this. Israeli officials regularly host American security officials and law enforcement officers in order to teach counterterrorism and security tactics. This helps to cement the relationship between these two allied democracies and provides insight into the pressures and realities faced by Israel. According to David C. Friedman of the Anti-Defamation League, officers who return from these visits "understand Israel and its security needs in ways a lot of audiences don't."

Israel has already used military aid as a tool for foreign relations, particularly in Africa and Latin America. This allowed Israel to build relationships outside of the hostile Middle East.

Israel is now poised to make new allies in the region to unify against the common enemy of Islamic fundamentalism. Israeli intelligence, technology, and expertise have already proven themselves in the war against Islamic extremism. Egypt and Israel combat Islamic State affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel is already working with Jordan against Levantine Islamic State threats.

It is one thing to be secure against one's rivals; it is quite another to be something they need.

As a result, relations between the three nations have improved, in what has been described as a "unity of the threatened."

The Saudis and the Turks, who have seen a dramatic increase in Islamic State attacks, are in prime position to join this alliance of the imperiled. In the wake of Iran, which stands upon the threshold of nuclear capabilities, this alliance of the imperiled is all the more vital for the future of peace in the Middle East.
This is an opportunity for Israel to rebuke its critics and demonstrate its ability to cooperate and seek out peace. It is one thing to be secure against one's rivals; it is quite another to be something they need.
Of course, some nations will decline this opportunity. The French have stubbornly refused to utilize Israeli technology in the past for fear of negative publicity. As terror threats proliferate in the years to come, however, the price of such obstinacy will be far too high.

Ethan Seletsky is a research intern at the Middle East Forum.
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 31, 2016, 09:03:19 AM
A miss on the article's point not to have noted this variable and to have discussed its implications , , ,
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: August 31, 2016, 09:02:07 AM
Caught the portion of Trump's big immigration speech last night that was on Hannity.  The portion that I caught was REALLY good!  A bold political play with the potential for a real paradigm shift in American politics.

In a closely related vein, here is this:  By
Aug. 29, 2016 7:13 p.m. ET
Hillary Clinton tried to tar Donald Trump as a racist last week by associating him with the “alt-right.” Yet it is Mr. Trump who has decried the loss of black life to violent crime—and has promptly been declared biased for doing so. Whether intentionally or not, Mr. Trump has exposed the hypocrisy of the Black Lives Matter movement and its allies.

Speaking in West Bend, Wis., on Aug. 16, only days after the recent riots in Milwaukee, Mr. Trump observed that during “the last 72 hours . . . another nine were killed in Chicago and another 46 were wounded.” The victims, as in other cities with rising crime, were overwhelmingly black.

Bringing safety to inner-city residents should be a top presidential priority, Mr. Trump said: “Our job is to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent who wants their kids to be able to safely walk the streets and walk to school. Or the senior citizen waiting for a bus. Or the young child walking home from school.” Mr. Trump promised to restore law and order “for the sake of all, but most especially for the sake of those living in the affected communities.”

The reaction was swift. The progressive website Crooks and Liars deemed Mr. Trump’s speech a “mashup of Hitler and George Wallace.” On CNN the activist and former Obama adviser Van Jones called it “despicable” and “shocking in its divisiveness.” Historian Josh Zeitz told USA Today that “the term law and order in modern American politics is, ipso facto, a racially tinged term.”

Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech in July at the Republican National Convention provoked similar dismay. “Young Americans in Baltimore, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Ferguson,” he said, have “the same right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.”

This defense of black children was too much for Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. “The terrifying vision that Donald J. Trump is putting forward casts him alongside some of the worst fascists in history,” Ms. Garza said. The executive director of the Advancement Project, Judith Browne Dianis, complained that “the speech lends itself to be interpreted as isolating and scapegoating of communities of color.” Political commentator Sally Kohn wrote in Time that Mr. Trump “has basically recycled Richard Nixon’s version of dog whistle racism by insisting he is the ‘law and order candidate’—implicitly protecting White America.”

Why this frenzied effort to demonize Mr. Trump for addressing the heightened violence in inner cities? Because the Republican nominee has also correctly identified its cause: the false “narrative of cops as a racist force in our society,” as he put it in Wisconsin.

Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement burst onto the national scene in 2014, following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., violent crime has surged in urban areas. In America’s largest 56 cities, homicides rose 17% last year, the largest one-year increase in more than two decades. In Washington, D.C., homicides jumped 54%; in Milwaukee, 73%; in Cleveland, 90%.

The reason is a drop-off in the proactive policing that activists and academics denounce as racist. While cops continue to rush to 911 calls in minority neighborhoods, they are making fewer pedestrian stops and engaging in less public-order enforcement. Backing off such activity is presumably what Black Lives Matter supporters, including President Obama, want.

Yet the victims of the resulting crime surge are almost exclusively black; whites have largely been unaffected. In Baltimore, 45 people were killed in July 2015, 43 of them black. In Chicago, 2,460 blacks were shot last year, lethally or non-lethally, according to the city’s police department. That’s nearly seven a day. Seventy-eight white residents were shot in 2015, though the white share of the Chicago population is about the same as the black share. Blacks in Chicago were 18 times more likely to be killed last year than whites, up from eight times more likely in 2005.

Police shootings are a minute fraction of this carnage. So far this year in Chicago, they account for about 0.5% of all shootings. Four studies published this year alone have further undercut the claim that we are living through an epidemic of racially biased policing shootings. Harvard economist Roland Fryer, for example, examined data from Dallas, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and six Florida counties. He found no evidence of racial discrimination in police shootings; officers in Houston were nearly 24% less likely to shoot blacks than whites.

When Mr. Trump pledges to restore law and order, he is not promising to “protect White America,” in Sally Kohn’s words. He is addressing a problem that whites could easily ignore, if they were the bigots that the Black Lives Matter movement and nearly the whole of academia make them out to be.
Strangely, it is Mr. Obama and Black Lives Matter sympathizers who have turned their eyes from the rising black victimization. FBI Director James Comey warned last October that the “chill wind blowing through American law enforcement” was leading to a “huge increase” in urban homicides and shootings. Mr. Obama promptly accused him of “cherry-picking data” and having a “political agenda.”

After Mr. Trump drew attention in his convention speech to the rising urban violence, President Obama again dismissed the casualties as merely an “uptick in murders and violent crime in some cities.” It is hard not to translate this is as: white lives matter; black lives, not so much.

Mr. Trump’s call to restore law and order recognizes the right of inner-city residents to enjoy the same freedom from fear that the rest of America now takes for granted, thanks to the 20-year decline in crime brought on by the proactive policing revolution of the 1990s. Mr. Trump has issued a much-needed warning that the antipolice narrative is putting black lives in jeopardy and undercutting the foundation of a civilized society. It is a message he should amplify.
Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The War on Cops.”
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The big flaw in the new regs on: August 31, 2016, 08:52:59 AM
The FAA vs. the Future
Posted: 30 Aug 2016 08:07 AM PDT
The new FAA rules (part 107) for the commercial use of drones are now in force..   Let me summarize them for you in a single picture:
The FAA rules (needed) are not only years late, they contain a major flaw.
It's a flaw so large, it's similar to regulating cars with the rules used for horse drawn carriages.   You can see this flaw in the rules they are proposing:
   Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS.
   A person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).
   No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
See the flaw yet?
The flaw is that the FAA's commercial drones require a pilot at the controls.  A pilot!   
The fact is, as a professional pilot, I can tell you categorically that drones don't need a pilot.  Not inside the aircraft or on the ground with a controller.  They can fly on their own. 
You can see this in how they developed.  Drones only became a disruptive technology the moment that low cost computer chips exceeded the intellectual capacity of insects in 2011.  They didn't become disruptive due improvements in the batteries, motors, and materials used to build them.  These new chips make drones smart enough to do everything insects (flies, bees, etc.) do.  That means they don't need pilots to:
   Stabilize themselves.
   Take-off, land, and navigate.
   Accomplish complex mission tasks.
As you can see, drones only become truly disruptive when they don't have pilots at all.  Yet, the FAA is regulating them in a way that forces drones to have pilots.
Let me put this in terms of work.  Drones without pilots make the following things possible (none of which are possible with pilots at the controls):
   Tireless.  Accomplish tasks 24x7x365. 
   Scalable.  Billions of drones can be used at the same time.
   Costless.  The cost per minute for drone services would drop to almost nothing. 
If these capabilities are unleashed, it's possible to do for drones what the Web/Internet did for networking. 
What is needed is a ruleset that makes Dronenet possible, not a system designed for commercial dilettantes. 
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: August 31, 2016, 08:49:33 AM
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch's questions for Hillary to answer in writing under oath on: August 31, 2016, 08:47:59 AM
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Prager on: August 30, 2016, 09:21:21 PM
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: The end of Abbas on: August 30, 2016, 08:29:41 AM
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: August 30, 2016, 01:02:50 AM
This public reactiveness may become the new normal both here and in Europe.  If so, we can expect people take advantage of it. 

Here's how. 

All it takes is a single audio clip.  Like this or this either near a public space or done remotely on a timed playback device is all it would take to ignite the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that leads to a large scale evacuation.  In fact, people are so reactive now, I suspect it wouldn't even take a sound that is explicit, only something that sounds similar.

Think about this for a moment.  The ability to shut down a public space for hours:

   anytime (just walk in and play the sounds),
   remotely (low cost playback device on timer/remote activation), or
   on a large scale (thousands of people playing the sounds on their smart phones in public spaces simultaneously)
is a substantial capability. 

How so? Take this fall's election for example.   

It is a far easier to close a voting location with a sound than hack a voting machine.
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Granny leads the way with a .20 shotgun on: August 29, 2016, 10:24:27 PM
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill: Let's rebuild Detroit with Syrian refugees on: August 29, 2016, 10:16:51 PM
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another one who bit the dust on: August 29, 2016, 08:12:03 PM
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 29, 2016, 06:13:33 PM
When did the Soviet Empire collapse?  Wouldn't the "peace dividend" be an important variable here as well?
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: August 29, 2016, 10:55:20 AM
I still have that Red Team article on my "to read" list.  Looks very interesting.
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Nigeria and polio on: August 29, 2016, 07:12:01 AM

Polio: The Disease Nigeria Can't Seem to Shake
August 28, 2016 | 13:01 GMT Print
Text Size
A health care worker administers an oral dose of polio vaccine to a child in northern Nigeria. (AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images)


By Rebecca Keller

Ridding the world of polio is going to take a little longer than originally expected. On Aug. 11, the World Health Organization confirmed at least two new cases of children who have been paralyzed by a wild-type poliovirus in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state. Prior to the revelation, Nigeria — once one of only three countries left where polio was endemic — was on the path to becoming polio-free by 2017.

When examining outbreaks and epidemics from a geopolitical perspective, we often look at how the disease in question might disrupt economic activities, such as workforce productivity or the movement of people and goods. From there, we determine whether the impact of the disease will be notable enough to influence political, economic or social decisions. But in the case of polio, perhaps the more relevant question is how those decisions have aided — or prevented — the virus's eradication.


Polio cases have become less and less common since a global campaign to combat it began some 30 years ago. Stamping out the virus completely, however, has proved to be a frustratingly elusive goal, thanks to the disease's nature and the geopolitical realities of the places where it lingers. In addition to Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are still struggling to wipe out the virus, a task made all the more difficult by the three countries' remote, isolated populations. The states' dire security situations often make disease prevention even more challenging: The Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan, and opposition is mounting to Pakistan's transition to secularism. Meanwhile, despite the waning influence of Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi — better known by its former name, Boko Haram — power in Nigeria continues to be localized, and economic and political uncertainty have clouded the country's future.

Several geographic factors have also hampered international initiatives to fight preventable diseases, including polio, in the developing world. Harsh climates, difficult terrain and secluded population pockets make it tough to control many diseases, let alone destroy them. Moreover, these factors are frequently compounded by social ones, including distrust in foreign aid, inadequate education and poor sanitation systems. Even in this day and age, smallpox is the lone success story in the fight to eradicate human disease worldwide.

In fact, when it began in the 1980s, the polio prevention campaign took many lessons from the effort to wipe out smallpox, including the flexibility it required. At the time, India, with its large, poor population and disjointed bureaucracy, had been identified as one of the countries most likely to encounter trouble quashing the poliovirus. But a decade later, India pulled together a massive vaccination campaign that, among other things, targeted migrant workers, a mode of transmission often missed in previous polio outbreaks. In 2014, its efforts paid off, and India was confirmed polio-free.

Weakened by Chronic Instability

Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the other hand, have not seen the same level of success. (That said, the two have made some headway, reporting a combined total of only 19 cases this year, compared with 74 cases in 2015 and over 300 cases in Pakistan alone in 2014.) In most of the developing world, vaccination against the poliovirus typically requires multiple doses of an oral vaccine. Health care officials administering those doses, then, must either be locals or commit to staying in the area being vaccinated for an extended period of time. Security and local buy-in are requisites for success, and both are in short supply in many parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When smallpox was wiped out in the 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan and Pakistan were relatively open to the West, making the vaccination campaign far easier to conduct. Today, however, trust in Western vaccine initiatives is difficult to find in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in part because U.S. intelligence operatives searching for Osama bin Laden used a vaccine program as their cover in 2011. The following year, local leaders in North and South Waziristan banned the vaccination of children, leading to an uptick in polio cases in the years that followed. Several international aid initiatives subsequently shut down their operations in Pakistan, citing safety concerns.

Because instability is likely to worsen in both countries in the coming years, defeating polio will not get any easier, regardless of the recent marked decline in cases. The new polio cases that have arisen in Afghanistan this year occurred in regions that have seen heightened activity by the Taliban and Islamic State. Though U.S. troops will remain in the country to counter Afghanistan's persistent security threats, they will not be able to quell the violence enough to smooth the way for the poliovirus eradication effort. Pakistan will likely see similar hiccups as it gradually moves toward secularism, a development that will be somewhat beneficial to vaccination campaigns. The country's conservative elements continue to block Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's attempts to enact reforms, and they will undoubtedly try to keep him from opening Pakistan to the West.

There is nothing keeping polio inside the Afghan and Pakistani borders, either. So long as the disease remains endemic in the two countries, it can spread and spark flare-ups in other states with similar geographic and social factors. Many corners of the world are afflicted by violence and instability, and foreign fighters continue to flow in and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They could easily carry polio to other volatile areas, as they did to Syria in 2014.

For Nigeria, a Poor Prognosis

Nigeria's political atmosphere has not changed as dramatically as Afghanistan's and Pakistan's have since the smallpox vaccination movement. Throughout the campaign, the leaders of the country — which had recently gained its independence and was under military rule — were distracted by widespread unrest. Abuja's victory against smallpox had more to do with the properties of the virus itself than with any comprehensive response on the part of the Nigerian government. Health care personnel, able to vaccinate only a small segment of the population, managed to curb outbreaks by selectively administering doses to patients based on behavioral information.

But that approach may not work with polio, as the recent cases suggest. The newest incidents were found to be genetically linked to a poliovirus last seen in 2011, indicating that the latest strain has actually been circulating undetected for five years. Because only a fraction of patients with polio exhibit any symptoms, it is also likely that there are more than the two known cases in the area.

Boko Haram is largely responsible for the insecurity that has hamstrung vaccination efforts in Nigeria over the past few years. Though the group has weakened since the start of 2015, it continues to threaten the country's three northeastern states — including Borno state. And as long as this security risk remains, so, too, will the risk that Nigeria's latest run-in with polio will not be its last.
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FP: Watching the submarines race on: August 29, 2016, 07:02:57 AM
Sub race. China is fueling a submarine race in the Pacific, FP’s Elias Groll and Dan De Luce tell us in a smart new story, writing that thanks to China’s huge increases in defense spending “and making aggressive claims to disputed island chains, Beijing’s regional rivals are investing in the one weapon that can undercut the increasingly potent People’s Liberation Army. Across South and East Asia, China’s neighbors are spending heavily on submarines, purchasing silent diesel-electric machines capable of slipping past Chinese defenses.”

But it’s not only subs. New Zealand recently signed a $26 million contract with Boeing to upgrade its fleet of five P-3 Orion submarine hunting surveillance planes. “This is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific region which is home to two-thirds of the world’s submarines” New Zealand’s defence minister Gerry Brownlee said.
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 8/22: Iran revokes airbase deal with Russians? on: August 29, 2016, 07:01:11 AM
second post
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Nuke negotiator arrested? on: August 29, 2016, 06:59:51 AM
Iran Arrests Person Linked to Negotiations on Nuclear Deal

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Iran said on Sunday that a person close to the government team that negotiated its nuclear agreement with foreign powers had been arrested on accusations of espionage and released on bail.

The disclosure, reported in the state news media, appeared to be the latest sign of the Iranian leadership’s frustration over the agreement, which has failed so far to yield the significant economic benefits for the country that its advocates had promised. Iranian officials have blamed the United States for that problem.

Despite the relaxations of many sanctions under the accord, which took effect in January, Iran faces enormous obstacles in attracting new investments and moving its own money through the global financial system.

The Iranians are still blocked from using American banks, an important transit point for international capital, because of non-nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States.

There were unconfirmed reports last week that the Iranian authorities had arrested Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, who has dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, on espionage suspicions.

Mr. Esfahani, an adviser to Iran’s central bank, helped the Iranian nuclear negotiators bargain for sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s pledges of verifiably peaceful nuclear work.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency said a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, speaking at a weekly news conference on Sunday in Tehran, had “confirmed the arrest of an individual from the negotiating team.”

But the spokesman also said that “his charge of spying has not been proved” and that the suspect had been released on bail pending an investigation.

The spokesman did not identify the suspect by name, which was considered unusual.

He also did not explain why bail had been granted for an espionage charge, regarded as one of the gravest offenses. Nonetheless, it seemed clear that he was referring to Mr. Esfahani.

Western analysts following the progression of the nuclear agreement said the arrest was worrisome.

Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy in Washington, said in an email that it was a clear sign that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “is unhappy over the slow pace at which the deal has been implemented.”

There was no immediate comment on Mr. Esfahani’s fate from the government of Canada, which has been contending with the arrest of another dual citizen in Iran in recent weeks.

In July, the Iranian authorities arrested Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian anthropologist who studies the role of women in Muslim societies. The reason for her incarceration has not been made clear.

The nuclear-related arrest was one of a number of hostile signals from Iran recently.

Three weeks ago, the authorities announced the execution of a nuclear scientist who had returned home from the United States, where, he claimed, he had been kidnapped by the C.I.A. The Iranians said the scientist had betrayed secrets to the enemy.

And last week, high-speed boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy harassed American warships patrolling international waters in the Persian Gulf region at least four times, United States officials said, calling the actions dangerous and illegal.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who supported the nuclear agreement, has increasingly denounced what he calls American duplicity in the negotiation and other matters.

In a speech on Sunday reported by the state news media, for example, he criticized the United States for opposing Iran’s purchase of a Russian-made missile-defense system.

“We face such an enemy that does not recognize any right of defense for our nation,” the state news media reported Ayatollah Khamenei saying in the speech to air force commanders. “In fact, it says you should remain defenseless so that when we wish, we can invade you.”
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian Dis-intel on: August 29, 2016, 06:45:42 AM
I must confess I have bitten on the bait a couple of times , , ,
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Admiralette on: August 29, 2016, 06:29:23 AM
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / He survived Bill's troopers on: August 28, 2016, 11:01:45 PM
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fly on the Chappaqua Wall on: August 28, 2016, 08:11:30 PM
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: The Bribery Standard on: August 28, 2016, 01:44:16 PM
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trey Gowdy on a rampage on: August 28, 2016, 12:53:08 AM
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese joining in the mix? on: August 27, 2016, 08:23:22 PM
And, in illustration of the point of my previous post:
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 27, 2016, 01:41:33 PM
Michael Sachs

As summer draws to a close, I want to be sure you’ve seen recent stories that highlight America’s alliance with Israel, expanding relations between Israel and other nations, and Iran’s continuing malign behavior.

Beginning on Aug. 15, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) joined the U.S. Air Force for a three-week military exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. This year marks the second consecutive year of the Jewish state’s participation in the realistic aerial combat exercise. Israeli pilots flew alongside counterparts from several other nations, including two countries—the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan—with which Israel does not have official diplomatic relations.
And once again, as our nation struggles to deal with a natural disaster, Israel is proving itself to be a stalwart ally. IsraAid, Israel’s international aid organization, is sending volunteers to help communities in Louisiana ravaged by recent flooding.

On the diplomatic front, the Turkish parliament approved the June 2016 reconciliation deal on Aug. 20. Only three days later, Turkey’s foreign minister announced that Israel and Turkey are set to exchange ambassadors, officially ending the six-year rift in relations between the two countries.

Also, on Aug. 22, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold made a groundbreaking visit to Guinea, a Muslim-majority African country that has recently resumed diplomatic relations with the Jewish state after a 49-year break.

On the medical front, in an Aug. 22 paper, Israeli and European researchers shared their discovery of how melanoma (skin cancer) cells spread to other parts of the body, which may one day improve diagnosis and treatment.

While there is much to celebrate, AIPAC is closely tracking Iran’s continued activities. On Aug. 23, four Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ships harassed an American destroyer sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital international waterway. Also this week, the former leader of the IRGC reportedly said a new Iranian military unit has been formed to fight in Arab countries in the region, with the eradication of Israel as its main objective. And, on Aug. 21, Iran revealed its new, advanced missile defense system designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles, drones and aircraft.

In short, while we celebrate the Jewish state’s ongoing achievements, Israel continues to face a complex array of threats. I hope that your summer has been restful, and I look forward to partnering with you this fall to further strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Michael Sachs
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Why Syria's Civil War gets worse and worse on: August 27, 2016, 12:29:50 PM
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH goes after the Donald on race on: August 27, 2016, 12:01:19 PM
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uh oh , , , OTMs from Jihadi countries 3.0 (General Flynn) on: August 27, 2016, 12:00:02 AM
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: August 26, 2016, 08:51:44 PM
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 1/3 of Huma's emails redacted 100% on: August 26, 2016, 08:23:38 PM
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 1/3 of Huma's emails redacted 100% on: August 26, 2016, 08:23:22 PM
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: August 26, 2016, 08:18:24 PM
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thoughts on being revolting in the modern age on: August 26, 2016, 08:01:00 PM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Manchin's daughter on: August 26, 2016, 07:51:16 PM
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strassel: The US Dept. of Clinton on: August 26, 2016, 04:56:39 PM
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump leaves Coulter's butt hurting on: August 26, 2016, 04:51:15 PM
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The next ten years on: August 26, 2016, 10:50:13 AM
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's Race War on: August 26, 2016, 10:36:36 AM
Disgusting lies, smears and hate.
August 26, 2016
Daniel Greenfield
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Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Hillary Clinton has met with leaders of a racist hate group responsible for torching cities and inciting the murders of police officers.  Deray McKesson, one of the Black Lives Matter hate group leaders she met with, had praised the looting of white people and endorsed cop killers Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Black Lives Matter hate group had specifically made a point of targeting white people in “white spaces” for harassment. It would go on to incite the mass murder of police officers in Dallas and other racist atrocities.

Despite all this, Hillary Clinton has never disavowed the racist hate group. Instead she doubled down on supporting the hate group and its icons at the Democratic National Convention.

Now, after Trump’s appeal to the black community, Hillary is desperately trying to divide us by race.

Despite Hillary’s latest hypocritical and self-serving accusations, Donald Trump has never held a meeting with leaders of a racist hate group. Hillary Clinton has. And she has refused all calls by police unions to end her support for a vicious hate group that has championed the release of cop killers and endorsed BDS against Israel.

When an 83-year-old great grandmother is viciously beaten by racist thugs and then set on fire, Hillary Clinton has nothing to say. She has remained silent about the wave of racist violence by her political allies that is sweeping this country and leaving victims battered or dead.

Hillary is trading on accusations of racism to distract attention from her ugly record of pandering to racists to get ahead. As Trump has said, “It’s the oldest play in the Democratic playbook. When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument. You’re racist, you’re racist, you’re racist!”
It’s not Hillary Clinton who has a consistent track record of opposing racists, but Donald Trump.

Trump’s first entry into presidential politics was a bid to block Pat Buchanan from gaining the Reform Party nomination. Trump accused Buchanan of anti-Semitism, racism and Nazi sympathies.

Hillary Clinton claimed that Trump had refused to disavow racist leader David Duke. But Trump had already rejected Duke back when he was considering a presidential campaign in 2000. "So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman—Mr. Duke, a Neo-Nazi—Mr. Buchanan, and a Communist—Ms. Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep."

If only Hillary Clinton had been as consistent in rejecting the company of Communists, Nazis and assorted racists as Trump has been.

Instead Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter racist DeRay McKesson who spends his time denouncing “whiteness”. And on the other side of the racial line, Hillary Clinton praised the “courage, tenacity and vision” of Margaret Sanger who had delivered a speech to the KKK and whose Negro Project had promoted racial eugenics. Sanger’s pamphlet, “What Every Girl Should Know”, had described Australian aborigines as “the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development”. If this isn’t racism, I don’t know what is.

But according to Hillary Clinton, killing black babies and promoting hatred against white people isn’t racist. But criticizing what the Democrats have done to black communities is.

In her speech, Hillary Clinton denounced Trump’s criticisms of the Democratic exploitation of black communities as racist. According to Hillary Clinton, when Trump bemoaned poverty, lack of ownership and blight in black communities under Democratic rule, that was bigoted.  It’s the opposite of bigotry. Hillary Clinton is so threatened by Trump’s challenge to Democratic hegemony in the black community that she has been forced to resort to the most “tired” of arguments.

There is no defending the track record of the Democrats in black communities. All that Hillary can do is accuse those who point to the tragedy of the inner city of being racists.

The rest of Hillary Clinton’s accusations are equally absurd.

Hillary Clinton accused Trump of somehow being involved with anti-Semitism. This is the same man who said, “I want to thank my Jewish daughter. I have a Jewish daughter.”  The idea that Trump has anything in common with Richard Spencer, the anti-Semitic bigot who coined the term “Alt-Right”, is absurd. There are members of the Alt-Right using Trump to promote themselves. But Trump has no idea who or what they are. And, unlike Hillary, he has a track record of rejecting them.

But Hillary is rerunning her old “vast right-wing conspiracy” meme. Its purpose is to turn the tables on her critics. But her speech is a bizarre rant which claims that Putin has masterminded some sort of global nationalist conspiracy. But Putin isn’t interested in American nationalism. He doesn’t want a strong America. He wants a weak America. He wants the America of Hillary Clinton stretching out a reset button to one of his lackeys and asking the Russian tyranny to forgive us for George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton denounces Trump as paranoid, but it’s her speech that is throbbing with unhinged paranoia, vague rumors and guilt by association. Even as she tries to claim the mantle of the optimistic candidate, her campaign runs on conspiracy theories and alliances with the vilest of racists.

The Obama years have been the biggest gift to racists of all shades and colors. During his time in office, both the black and white view of race relations has plummeted dramatically. If racist hate groups of both colors are in ascendance, it’s not because of Trump, but because of Obama.  And four to eight years of Hillary continuing this ugly legacy would see them grow even further.

Why would racists want Trump, who has denounced them, when they can have Hillary?

Why would Putin want a stronger America, when he can have more of the inept fumbling and appeasement of the Obama years?

Why would anyone believe Hillary Clinton’s paranoid conspiracy theories when they make no sense?

If Vladimir Putin had wanted to dictate our foreign policy, he couldn’t have done any better than Obama.

If black and white racists had wanted to divide us by race, they couldn’t have done any better than Obama.  Hillary Clinton’s disgusting accusations are an attempt to divert attention from the real issues that Trump has raised, from black suffering under Democratic rule to Islamic terrorism.

As Trump has said, “People who speak out against radical Islam, and who warn about refugees, are not Islamophobes. They are decent American citizens who want to uphold our values as a tolerant society, and who want to keep the terrorists out of our country.”

Hillary Clinton wants to bring the terrorists to this country. She wants to continue destroying our national security the way that her mentor in the White House has been doing.  And she will tell any lie and launch any smear to crawl her way to power. Now she’s trying to play on racial divisions while trying to attribute her own tactics to Donald Trump.

247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uh oh , , , OTMs from Jihadi countries 2.0 on: August 25, 2016, 09:22:18 PM
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Look who is donating to the Clinton Slush Fund on: August 25, 2016, 08:22:01 PM
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Pravdas: Soros who? on: August 25, 2016, 06:11:19 PM
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: August 25, 2016, 02:49:47 PM
EXCELLENT speech today by Trump in New Hampshire.
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